I recently had the opportunity to learn a bit about safety tips around the holidays, especially as it relates to keeping our children safe, from Jarrett Arthur, a professional self-defense instructor. I thought her insight was extremely helpful, so I invited her to be a guest author on the blog today. I hope these tips will help you develop some new habits this holiday season that will help keep you and your loved ones protected.
During such a festive, joyous, and loving time of the year it can be a little depressing to have to come to terms with the fact that the holiday season requires heightened sense awareness and extra safety precautions. The reality is that crimes against adults, children, and homes spike over the course of these 6 weeks, due in part to several factors including, but not limited to: distracted consumers, more purchases being made, heavier traffic in public places, lowered personal boundaries, increased alcohol consumption, vacationing, and even just the simple fact that our economy is still struggling which makes people feel desperate, particularly during the holidays. Below are 3 common seasonal activities and easy strategies you can follow to make yourself and your kids significantly safer during this time of the year.
The holidays mean shopping. Buying gifts, decorations, party supplies, returning gifts, capitalizing on bargains means that you’ll be spending an inordinate amount of time in shops, stores, and malls. The best tool you have is to limit distractions and increase your environmental awareness.
- Leave the kids with a sitter for more involved excursions if possible. You’ll be able to focus more on the people and energy around you.
- Put your phone and Bluetooth away, even when inside a store so that your eye line remains elevated and your ears remain open.
- Have a shopping list and a plan before you even leave the house.
- Park close to entrances if possible and utilize security guards as escorts when available.
- Be extra careful when approaching or exiting your car and loading your vehicle.
- Don’t carry a lot of cash and leave everything but the essentials at home.
- Make a unique email address just for online holiday shopping so that it’s easier to track receipts, and if your account gets hacked you won’t open up access to more sensitive information, including your contacts.
This is a time for you to unwind, relax, and celebrate. It’s also a time when your child may be exposed to adults outside of your inner circle in intimate settings like home holiday parties. Whether you’re at home partying with distant friends, relatives, and coworkers, or at someone else’s home celebrating, now is the time to pay extra attention.
- Give your child “polite greeting” options, such as a handshake, that instills manners while allowing them to maintain their personal space boundaries with an adult who they don’t feel comfortable around.
- Designate parts of the party house that are isolated, empty, or have low visibility as “no go” areas that are off-limits to your child.
- Limit alcohol consumption at parties with your kids so that you can more easily track their whereabouts and watch other adults interact with them.
As if traveling during the holidays wasn’t stressful already, you have unique safety considerations to make during times of transit. Preparation is the essential element here, as well as some general common sense strategies.
- Talk to your kids ahead of time about safe places (stores, restaurants, security desks) and safe people (cashiers, wait staff, anyone in a uniform, parents with kids) they should go to first during an emergency, if a stranger has approached them wanting to chat, or if they get separated.
- When you’re at the airport, gas station, or a restaurant play the “Safe Game,” where your kids try to identify as many safe places and safe people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Time them to make it fun!
- Practice vehicle safety. Check oil, belts, and tires before heading on a car trip. Never let your gas tank get below half a tank. Also pack extra water, snacks, and blankets, as well as a tow rope, flares, and jumper cables.
- Wait until after you get home from vacation to post photos and stories online.
- Leave several inside and outside lights on auto-timers at home, and make sure you either have someone take in the mail or put your mail on hold.
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